Friday, May 25, 2018

How I Ended Up In Israel

I like road trips.  I don't like to fly, in fact I am fearful. Until this year, I had not flown in 15 years.  I rarely travel.  I have been out of the state I live in only a handful of times.  I never had a passport till I turned 40, which was in 2017.  However, in April of 2018 I embarked on a journey completely out of the box for me.  I went to Israel!!! It wasn't a journey that I would have planned, but G-d invited me and He began that long before April.

I believe the story began in 2014 when my family began attending other churches from the one we had been attending.  During the time away, I received messages from someone at the church inviting us back, which continued into 2015 a few times.  In 2016 we did go back to the church briefly, but left again.  That same person continued to invite us back.  In these years we only visited a few churches and stayed at a couple for a good length of time, but we never felt those congregations were where we belonged.  The messages I received and brief conversations that I had with this person, G-d used to bring us back to the original church we left.  We visited again in January of 2017 and have not left!!

It was at this church that I frequently heard my pastor, Trey Graham speak about Israel and a fleeting thought would run through my mind that it would be cool to go. That thought was never seriously entertained.  I knew Israel was important. I knew that the Jews were G-d's chosen people. It was a basic head knowledge. That drastically changed in February of 2017.  Our pastor had a guest speaker named Dov Lipman share his story of  making aliyah.  His story impacted me so much.  I would now say it changed my life.  Little did I know, this was the night the Lord began preparing me for my first trip out of the country. This man was used by G-d to light a fire in me to learn about Israel, the Jewish people, and Hebrew.

Shortly after this guest speaker, my pastor began a sermon series titled "A Walk Through the Holy Land".  It was incredible.  It increased my hunger to learn more.  During this series I was challenged to run a half marathon, this challenge was inspired by how much Jesus walked in the land of Israel.  I also ended up changing jobs. The founder of the organization I now work for has a deep love for Israel, the Jewish people, and Hebrew.

In May of 2017 I was asked to help with a prayer ministry for Israel and in the email it was stated that I had not yet gone to Israel.  At that point, I wanted to go, but yet I didn't.  I didn't want to fly and I didn't think it was possible for me to go. But those words stayed with me.

In August we had two more speakers from the land, both inspiring me to keep learning.  I had already began studying the letters, these speakers increased my desire to learn more. I absolutely love Hebrew.  It is incredible. My pastor began teaching us about Jewish holidays and I was blown away.  In October I was told about the upcoming trips to Israel, but they were not official.  I was also told about a conference regarding Israel I could attend. I loved every moment of the music and the learning. My pastor and Rabbi Lipman began a podcast, called the Lonestar Podcast,  that I now listen to weekly. They discuss news, events, and Torah.  In November I read a book by Don Finto titled "Your People Shall Be My People" and it drove deeper my love for this land, this language, and this people. I began asking people questions from the book, even strangers.  The Israel trip for April was officially announced on November 21.  I mentioned on social media the trip sounded amazing and the co-host of the trip stated "I personally guarantee it."  This man runs Root-Source, another resource where Jews teach Christians. I signed up for that to learn more.  Now I wanted to go, but with other circumstances, fear, and money I didn't know how.  In December the how was figured out. The Lord provided. I just had to make a decision.

My one word for 2018 is trust, but on December 26, 2017 I had not made the choice for my word.  I had a conversation with a few friends about Israel and trust came up. After this talk I read Luke 7:50 in the CJB version,  "Your trust has saved you, go in peace".  While the story leading up to this verse is different than making a decision to fly out of the country, the verse spoke to me.  I felt G-d was asking me to go and let trust be my word for 2018.  I had never left my kids for this long, but I wanted them to see faith.  I wanted them to see obedience. I wrestled with the choice, but finally said yes on January 9, 2018.   I lost sleep over the choice.  I felt anxious. The night I found out the plane tickets were booked, I lost sleep again. We began a 40 days of faith series and in my book on 1-22-18 I heard from the Lord and wrote "stop being so fearful." On 1-26-18 I listened to the Lonestar Podcast and took notes when I listened a second time, because it spoke to me about going on the trip.  I heard Pastor Trey and Rabbi Lipman speak about faith and ask questions and say things such as, "Will I trust Him to protect me?", "If the Lord says go, we go. Act of faith". I knew I would regret not going.  Despite trust being my word and these messages I struggled some, but as April of 2018 drew near I also had a peace that I was saying yes to what the Lord had invited me to do. And that is how I ended up in Israel.

I can't get over how much this has taken root in me.  I wish everyone understood what I am learning. The meanings and structure of the Hebrew letters, the traditions, the land....all of it..it's incredible.  I read the Bible with new eyes.  My faith has grown.  I have made many new friends because of this journey.  I am extremely thankful.  I look forward to sharing the trip with you soon and maybe a post about all the learning resources I have used and books I have read.

For all of this Baruch Hashem.  

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